honest opinions of Mercy Multiplied/ mercy ministries residential treatment program

Hi everyone,

So I’m writing today basically on behalf of a friend that’s really struggling. She’s living in a very rural part of the state I live in and struggling to get the most basic health care mentally with a lot of diagnosis. She’s dealing with a quickly developing form of anorexia, self-injury, borderline personality disorder, and schizoaffective disorder.

I’ve been trying to help my friend for the past six months or so find treatment. It didn’t work out for her at a group home that took forever for her to get into, because they said she needed a higher level of care and was apparently hospitalized too many times for them.

The intermediate care facility that I’m in and others, said that her BPD self injury and eating disorder behaviors are beyond the scope of what they can handle. Which surprised me as these places tend to accept clients with severe disorders, psychosis, mood disorders ETC. A couple residents here have SI issues but not to the extent she does. I’m tired of hearing people say she needs specialized care or even acting like she’s some germy thing they won’t touch, yet giving no duidance or compassion.

But I’m getting off track for this post. The one option we have been able to find is an organization called Mercy Ministries now called Mercy Multiplied. It’s a Christian based program that works with girls in their teens and twenties with such issues as recovery from abuse, BPD, eating disorders, self injury teen pregnancy ETC. It uses The Bible and other Christian counseling techneques and claims great success. And it’s free basically. I think you only have to pay two hundred dollars or something.

So it’s definitely a big plus for those on very low incomes and with Medicaid as all doors to residential treatment seem to be locked for those on Medicaid unless you happen to be lucky enough to be in a state where a program accepts Medicaid and then who knows what hoops you have to jump through to get in.

I’ve researched the place obviously. And found a lot of contradictory information. There were a good number of course that said the treatment center worked really well for them and they’re happy they went. That it brought them closer to God and this was very healing. There are however a whole run of articles over the years stating that Mercy is a cult, that the leaders are extremely controlling and control all aspects of the resident’s lives including what they read listen to or even talk about. That there have also been cases of recovered memory therapy and cases where a girl coming in with no history of abuse leaves believing she was sexually abused.

This worried me from the outset that this organization is and was taking advantage of very vulnerable girls. Knowing of course that they have really no access to care of that kind at all with their low income/ Medicaid status. I am biased as I do have a counseling degree but have not researched at all Christian counseling. So don’t really know where the line is between what’s ethical counseling and what’s spiritual abuse.

As time went on and my search for alternatives turned up nothing, besides people who really didn’t care yet are so eager to talk with those who can hand out thousands of dolars, I’ve started to realize Mercy Multiplied might be the only option. It frustrates me not that this place is on the list of options or that it’s necessarily all bad. But that out of the whole country only one place no matter what it is is the only option for in depth residential treatment. When so many centers are open and waiting for those who have the ability to pay.

So I’m asking for honest opinions good or bad about this treatment center. And if possible and comfortable if you could lay out concretely as possible what the treatment consisted of. I’m particularly interested to hear from those who went in dealing with eating disorders, BPD, and self injury.

I’ve read all the articles pros and cons and would like to personally talk with those involved in order to get a better perspective on the center. Thanks so much.

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13 thoughts on “honest opinions of Mercy Multiplied/ mercy ministries residential treatment program

      • I did check the blog. It was revealing reading I think this girl was couragious to write what she did so others know the damage that was done. I commented but haven’t heard back it seems she isn’t on that blog all that often. But thank you for pointing me in that direction.

    • She doesn’t have to but she does want. She earnestly wants help with her eating disorder, self injury and all other issues. She deserves a shot at going to a six month residential treatment of which there are so many in the us where she’d get intensive group and individual therapy as well as meal planning after care ETC.
      However due to the financial disparities and the system favoring the rich she has no access to such places.
      The only one it seems she can attend is Mercy as it’s free. However it seems like one pays a high emotional price for this “free” treatment. I plan to really steer her away from this place. And suggest she hang in there as where she’s living though not ideal is much better than a possible cult. And I could see her possibly moving to another shelter care home in a bigger town. We’ll see. The situation is disgusting and probably plays out a thousand times a day or week and we just don’t know. All those people with so little options for treatment.

  1. I would definitely not recommend Mercy to someone with diagnosable mental illness, especially severe mental illness. In my experience, Mercy is not equipped to effectively treat those with mental illnesses. I had PTSD, disordered personality traits, self injury behavior, etc, and did not receive the help I needed when I entered the program in 2006.

    It seems like you are a great and caring person — your friend is blessed to have you in her life. I will say a prayer for both of you tonight: for discernment, peace and most importantly healing for her.

  2. I’m sorry, in my previous comment I didn’t provide concrete examples of my treatment. My treatment included:

    – Working through Restoring the Foundations (RTF) counseling manual. Mercy now claims to use a counseling manual called Choices That Bring Change, which I suspect — but cannot prove — is simply a re-branding of Restoring the Foundations. When I was there, every resident, regardless of presenting issues, used this counseling manual. We were not allowed to look ahead in the manual, nor were we allowed to take it with us outside the home. Someone leaked PDF of it online a while back so you could probably find it online (for free) if you searched for it. Some features of this manual: One of the very first tasks I was given as part of my counseling was to make a list of all of the people who had hurt me — including all of my abusers — and go down the list and forgive them. Out loud. Each of them. Using a formulaic prayer. No discussion of the details of any of the abuse (that would come later). No struggling with what it means to forgive or not to forgive. Just going down the list, one by one, until I’d “forgiven” everyone on the list. And then we moved on to the next part of the RTF manual.

    – Daily reading and reciting aloud God’s Creative Power and God’s Creative Power for Healing, which are small booklets written by Charles Capps. The premise of these booklets is basically that we can, through our spoken words, bring ourselves healing or bring ourselves wounding. What I took away from these booklets is that the onus is on us to release God’s healing power in our lives depending on the words we speak and the promises of God we claim, promises which include supposed physical, mental and emotional healing. I would put the teachings in the booklets into the prosperity gospel/Word-Faith theological category (which I personally believe is heresy, though I know many well-meaning, sincere Christians do disagree on this).

    – Once a week counseling with an assigned counselor. To be fair, of all of the counselors at my specific home (I’m declining to specify so as to preserve my anonymity), I think I had a really good one, comparatively. She was a good listener and seemed to genuinely care about me. Unfortunately, she seemed to still believe a lot of the theology espoused in, at and through Mercy. She also seemed to interpret parts of my personality — like my humor, etc. — as negative or simply coping strategies. Ultimately, I didn’t feel like she really enjoyed me in ways that others did. To be frank, I was a MESS when I entered the program. Ultimately, the type of counseling I received, plus my issues (PTSD, anxiety, self-injury, etc.), created a recipe for disaster.

    – “Group counseling” which consisted if being in a small group with other residents and a counselor and discussing or working through a Bible study or some similar workbook or teaching. But here’s the weird thing — even in this group counseling we weren’t allowed to discuss our issues with each other. So we all just spoke generally about things. It was just super weird.

    – One section of the Restoring the Foundations manual covered Demonic Oppression. As I remember it — it’s been a while — it focused on renouncing Satan’s lies and strongholds. There was speaking in tongues and laying on of hands by the counselors, which is why many people interpret this section to be a section on performing exorcisms. It certainly has many of the features of an exorcism, though I don’t tend to view it that way. I still view it, however, as a damaging experience. Healing prayer, when done gently, lovingly and un-superstitiously, can be extremely helpful — or as been to me. But it has looked nothing like what I experienced at Mercy. Nothing at all.

    – Last item, during my time there, I saw many women leave or get kicked out before I eventually did. After a girl left, it would be customary for all of the residents to be gathered together and told that we had to surrender any contact information we had for the kicked-out girl and that we were not to get in touch with said girl either during or after our time at Mercy! Super cult-like and controlling.

    I hope this extra information helps.

    • Hi. I totally applaud your courage and honestly in sharing this here! You’re a very articulate and insightful person and I’m so glad you’ve found healing after this abusive experience.
      The issues you came in with are exactly what my friend is going through. The treatment methods are I feel inadiquate for the depth of these issues, and at worst abusive. When someone goes to a treatment center for these issues they’re expecting staff qualified in a variety of therapy subjects and experience to help and work as a team. They should encourage the person to slowly explore their issues while giving coping tools which should include but not be limited to spirituality. That’s only one part of a person’s being and health and in order for true recovery/ healing to take place all aspects, physical, emotional, ,ental and spiritual needs to be addressed as I said by qalified professionals in the field. The treatment I feel would also use the power of the group and peer conection as a great tool of healing not discourage contact or people from sharing with one another.
      Additionally much of you said matches almost word for word to other reviews/ things I’ve read online. As I understand there is a mercy survivors site as well as facebook posts. And from what I’ve read all this organization has done is change its name/ book perhaps, and get more money raised.
      Again thank you for speaking out.

  3. I want to thank everyone for their honest thoughts! Please continue to share this post with people so I can get as many thoughts as possible no matter what position. I’d actually like to hear from anyone who got a lot out of the program and their thoughts on the cons that have been repeatedly mentioned.

  4. Dear Concerned Friend,
    I would highly recommend not referring your friend to Mercy Multiplied. A summary of my story is as follows:
    I was a resident a Mercy Multiplied home. Rather than receiving compassionate and appropriate treatment for my issues, I was dealt with punitively.I was brought into the office of the director multiple times where I would receive belittling, name calling and emotionally abusive comments regarding my actions in a yelling tone of voice that left me in tears multiple times.I left so much more damaged then when I entered and am still recovering from the initial struggles and the treatment I received while in the Mercy Multiplied home. The home needs to be run solely under licensed professional counselors and therapists who specialize in trauma-informed care and trauma therapy to help those who have been abused for many years or are victims of trafficking. Anything less, is harmful, negligent and should be considered malpractice. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK207201/).
    The existing program at Mercy Multiplied is so far from this model and forces women to through in six months or less. This leaves those with multiple traumas without hope of receiving appropriate and thorough treatment. One of the girls in the program even died shortly after graduating from the program; indicating that her problems
    were not appropriately and fully addressed and her follow up was not sufficient for recovery.
    As for me, I was kicked out before being able to work through the issues (fast enough for their liking) that brought me to the home and left with nothing due to the completely negligent and harmful treatment of Mercy Multiplied.
    Your friend would be so much better off in the hands of clinically trained and licensed professionals who have years of experience and will truly treat your friend with compassion and love. Best wishes. A.M

    • Thanks so much for being open and couragious to share your story! Sadtly it seems the pattern of every girl I’ve asked and read about. It’s horific that an organization would take advantage of such vulnerable people and knowingly provide unethical unlicensed treatment. Or maybe they’re just deluting themselves and think they’re providing good care. Either way they’re hurting so many. And know that for many of these people they can not afford any alternatives. Which is the next step. After shutting the place down which I believe can happen as there’s such a backing of people who have ben abused, how to we convince organizations money makers ETC to provide an alternative for those that aren’t rich and insured? Again I’m so grateful for your contribution.

  5. Thanks again for all your thoughts and openness to share such a painful time in your life. It always angers and saddens me to hear about people being betrayed by the healthcare system or used and this is a huge example of that. An organaziation that clearly knows people have been hurt but seems to just deflect responsibility and continue to raise money. Fortunately my friend is not thinking of going to this place for which I’m truly grateful. I’m not sure what the abuse handed to her by these so called professionals would do to her already damaged mind. I just am hoping you guys got some kind of good treatment. The issue here I feel is about being able to afford quality treatment which is sucha struggle and Mercy knows this and is taking advantage of this. I’ll join all efforts to shut this place down, and also to try to figure out a way to have quality rauma informed affordable care for those in situations where they need residential treatment.

  6. Every Organisation has some frailties at the end of the day…God is Sovereign and l pray that every staff member welther the GM or the volunteer of the Organisation Mercy Multiplied has a heart for God and a sense of love and respect for every lady that goes through their program. It offers Hope for low income earners who other wise has had limited options.
    Keep praying for Mercy Multipied that Gods Will be continuing be done and many women can be set free and live a life of healing and love.
    Organisations cant heal its the acknowledgement that we are dependent on God and His loving mercy that sets us free and heals us.
    ***Sorry l did not mean to be preachy but once you know that Love then you will understand.
    Signed
    A father of a daughter that struggled. 😊

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